Orange is the Black was one of Netflix‘s first big hits, but it turns out the actors involved weren’t being paid their due. With the screen actors’ strike now in full swing, a shocking post from Orange actress Kimiko Glenn (Brook Soso) is going viral on TikTok, revealing her tiny paycheck for working on the show.
Originally posted in 2020, the video depicts a residual statement listing Glenn’s royalty payments for individual episodes. Panning down the list, Glenn exclaims sarcastically, “I’m about to be so riiich!”
Her total payment for appearing in 45 episodes of the Netflix hit? $27.30.
@itskimiko why #sagaftra is striking #sagaftrastrong #sagaftrastrike #sagstrike ♬ original sound – kimiko
Glenn is far from the only person in this position, with numerous actors and writers revealing residual checks for just a few cents. But Orange is the New Black is a particularly jarring example because the show is so well-known.
It’s also a perfect illustration of a key issue behind the joint SAG/WGA strike. In the past, TV writers and actors could rely on residual payments for episodes that re-aired on TV, providing a more steady income between jobs. However, this isn’t the case for streaming projects.
Platforms like Netflix pay little to no residuals for shows that are continually available to stream. So it’s entirely possible to be a household name and still struggle to make ends meet—as Kimiko Glenn explained in a follow-up TikTok.
@itskimiko @The New Yorker released an article the other day describing many of our cast’s experience on #orangeisthenewblack and the details will astound you. go to my IG for the link 💕💕 #sagaftra #sagaftrastrike #sagstrike #sagaftrastrong ♬ original sound – kimiko
Responding to commenters arguing that actors got paid up front, Glenn said, “Whether or not we got paid up front… my tits live on in perpetuity. I deserve to get paid for as many fucking streams as that shit gets.”
“Second of all, we did not get paid very well. Ever. And when I say did not get paid very well, you would die. People were bartenders still. People had their second jobs still. They were fucking famous as shit, like internationally famous. Couldn’t go outside but had to keep their second jobs.”
In a third TikTok, Glenn urged other actors to come forward with their own stories, highlighting a crucial PR battle for the actors’ strike: Fighting the misconception that actors are rich.
Orange is the New Black is a particular target this week thanks to a recent New Yorker article, where cast members describe feeling disillusioned about how they were compensated for their work. At first, Orange was seen as a plucky underdog for a new era of TV. Actors initially accepted much lower pay than the industry standard. But as the show became a hit, it was eye-opening to achieve celebrity status while still living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Some actors also remarked on a pay disparity between the white leads and lesser-known actors from minority backgrounds. Meanwhile, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos makes tens of millions a year.